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Second Best of Prep Sports awards a success

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A Heisman Trophy winner was in the house, as was the trophy.

Grins were plentiful. Hardware was received. Hundreds of photos were taken.

And there was a standing ovation for a young athlete who has battled back from cancer.

The second annual Best of Prep Sports awards by Summerville Communications were a rousing success. The company, which publishes the Journal Scene, Berkeley Independent and The Gazette newspapers, recognized high school student-athletes and coaches in Berkeley and Dorchester counties in Summerville on the evening of May 16.

"It was a great night," said David Kennard, executive editor. "These athletes represent the best of the best in the area of community sports and we are thrilled to honor them for their success."

Former South Carolina running back George Rogers, who won the Heisman Trophy in 1980, was the headliner and emphasized the importance of making the right choices on and off the field – admitting he didn’t always choose the right path – in a question-and-answer session with well-known Lowcountry personality Warren Peper.

Peper was the emcee for the second year in a row.

Rogers became the first player chosen in the 1981 National Football League draft and played seven seasons in the NFL for the New Orleans Saints and Washington Redskins, helping the Redskins win a Super Bowl in 1988 before retiring.

He now works in public relations for the University of South Carolina and speaks out against drug use while raising funds for first-generation college students through the George Rogers Foundation of the Carolinas.

Summerville Communications handed out 30-plus awards, including a male and female athlete of the year. Both are seniors on the cusp of graduation next month.

Three-sport standout DJ Chisolm of Berkeley High School was named the male winner and Pinewood Prep soccer and basketball player Grace Powell was the female winner.

There were more winners in each varsity sport and some additional special awards made their way to recipients in the categories of leadership, academics and service. One of those was the courage award, given to Mackenzie McKinney, a Pinewood Prep athlete who bounced back from a battle with Hodgkin Lymphoma.

She received a standing ovation after Peper read her bio and she walked across the stage to receive her plaque.